Study Abroad Ambassadors are students who have recently studied abroad and are eager to share their experience, wisdom and advice with prospective study abroad students. If you need information about a particular country, program or have concerns about traveling to a new place feel free to contact an Ambassador!
Meet the Fall 2015 ambassadors! They studied abroad during the Spring 2015 semester.
Name: Carolina Benitez
Study Abroad Program: Exchange in San Sebastian, Spain
Why you decided to study abroad: I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and challenge myself. I also wanted to experience different cultures to gain a better understanding of the world. Studying abroad teaches you things you wouldn’t learn anywhere else.
The highlight of your study abroad trip: Getting to go to Santorini, Greece. That was my ultimate dream destination. Also bungee jumping off of a bridge in Spain.
Best piece of advice that you received while you were abroad or that you have for people going abroad: Be aware that where you are going to be is not like home. It will be completely different but you have to embrace it and get the most out of your experience. Do things you wouldn’t normally do, because when you are looking back at the end of your experience, you will be so glad you did all those things.
What (kind of skills) did you learn abroad: How to communicate with people from all different cultures. I also learned to travel with confidence. Coming back home, I now realize there is nothing I can’t do.
What was your biggest concern before going and what advice do you have for prospective study abroad students that may have the same concern as you: I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to handle being away from family and friends for four and a half months. The first two months were hard to get adapted to a new culture and way of life, but after I really settled in I was having so much fun that I wouldn’t think about what my friends at home were doing. Be prepared to fully adapt yourself to that new culture, including the language.
Post-graduate plans: I’m still trying to figure it out, but I know I want to continue traveling the world.
Read more about Carolina’s exchange experience here!
Name: Becca Harbison
Major: Interdisciplinary (Environmental and Sustainability Studies)
Study Abroad Programs: ISEP semester exchange to Stockholm, Sweden; CML Faculty led summer semester in Costa Rica (2013)
Why you decided to study abroad: I wanted to experience and learn from cultures different from my own while enhancing my interdisciplinary studies major. I also wanted to challenge myself to have new experiences as big and small as trying new food to spending a week alone in Paris!
The highlight of your study abroad trip: Running into the Arctic Ocean in a swimsuit in March next to a tiny Norwegian fishing village
Best piece of advice that you received while you were abroad or that you have for people going abroad: There is a good chance you will live with many other international students. Although it’s important to meet people who are from the country you choose to study in, don’t miss the opportunity to get to know your fellow exchange students. It may be one of the few times in your life that you can connect with and befriend so many very different people all in one place. Have an open mind, be willing to listen more than argue, and learn from everyone around you.
What (kind of skills) did you learn abroad: While in Costa Rica, I greatly improved my Spanish and finished my minor.
How will you apply your study abroad experiences in the future: Studying abroad has made me more self assured and more open to change. I feel more comfortable trying new things and confident in my ability to handle what life throws at me. I was able to visit several of my European friends after the semester ended and get a much better understanding of their home countries and culture. This is one of the best ways to travel and I plan to do it more in the future.
What was your biggest concern before going and what advice to you have for prospective study abroad students that may have the same concern as you: One of my worries was that I would end up living with many American exchange students and not get to know as many people from other countries. However, I found having a few Americans around was a nice way to prevent homesickness. There were plenty of opportunities to meet other people. You just have to try.
Post-graduate plans: I’m considering joining Peace Corps and traveling to South or Central America. Then I will begin my urban planning studies in graduate school.
Read more about Rebecca’s life-changing study abroad program here.
Name: Amanda Myers
Minor(s): Cognitive Science, Disability Studies
Study Abroad Program: Missouri-Greece Program in Athens, Greece
Why you decided to study abroad/Why you chose your program: I have always wanted to travel and immerse myself in another culture. Since I did not have a language background, I chose a program that allowed me to take classes in English while still allowing me to attend classes with the Greek students.
The highlight of your study abroad trip: Camel riding in Egypt around the pyramids
What (kind of skills) did you learn abroad: I learned so much about myself – I gained independence, learned how to interact socially and educationally with individuals who are different than me, and how to live in a culture and get around with a language that I didn’t know at all.
How will you apply your study abroad experiences in the future: All of the transferable skills that I obtained while I was abroad will make me marketable both on the job market and when applying to graduate schools. Studying abroad offers a lot of opportunities that may open doors for me in the future and I am excited to see where this experience takes me.
What was your biggest concern before going and what advice to you have for prospective study abroad students that may have the same concern as you: I was most worried about missing out on events back home such as graduation of my senior friends, philanthropy opportunities, and extracurriculars. And I did…but it didn’t affect me like I originally thought it would. While I was not able to be present at any of the events happening at home, I was able to experience things during my trip abroad that I never thought would happen in my lifetime.
Post-graduate plans: I will hopefully be attending graduate school for a PsyD in clinical child psychology.
Read more about Amanda’s unique study abroad experience here.
Name: Julia Wolfe
Majors: Political Science, International Development
Study Abroad Program: ISEP Exchange in Grenoble, France
Why you decided to study abroad: After years of learning French in the classroom I felt that I needed an immersion to improve my speaking skills. Studying through ISEP allowed me to take classes for my majors while practicing my French. And of course, I wanted to sightsee and eat my way around the continent during breaks!
The highlight of your study abroad trip: Spending a week exploring Italy with my new friends and running into another Truman student at a hostel in Naples! I also spent two and a half amazing weeks after exams visiting Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium.
Your favorite quote from abroad: “Les copains d’abord” which means “friends first”. It also happened to be the name of a bar in town! The title of one of my favorite songs, “Non, je ne regrette rien”, also sums up my experience. It means “I regret nothing”.
Best piece of advice that you received while you were abroad or that you have for people going abroad: Always have a plan. And always be prepared for it to fall apart! There will definitely be times where things don’t go as planned, but as long as you keep a good attitude they often turn out even better than expected!
What (kind of skills) did you learn abroad: I learned how to navigate new cities where I didn’t speak the language, without using the internet. Traveling gets easier the more you practice!
What kind of issues (political, cultural, etc.) did you experience while living in a new culture (specific events, cultural practices, etc.): I arrived in France the day after the Charlie Hebdo attack and attended a solidarity march that weekend. It was eye opening to see the country deal with tragedy and we discussed the attack a lot in the “Anthropology of Islam” class I took.
How will you apply your study abroad experiences in the future: I’ve already been using my French this summer while interning at the Belgian Embassy in DC. I expect to continue to use it in professional life. Here at Truman I work for the International Student Office, where I hope to use my experience to smooth the transition for international students arriving at Truman.
What was your biggest concern before going and what advice do you have for prospective study abroad students that may have the same concern as you: My biggest concern was making new friends, but I quickly realized that all of the other students in my program were worried about the same thing! I had also heard that Professors were not as friendly as in the US. It’s true that they didn’t have office hours, but I still felt they were nice and approachable!
Post-graduate plans: I plan on going to graduate school for a master’s in International Economic Development. I plan on applying to schools in Canada, Norway, Germany and the Netherlands.
Read more about Julia’s International Student Exchange Program experience here.